There just aren’t enough facepalms for HR
A message went out to the entire company yesterday. It mentioned a whiteboard outside the cubicle of one of the HR girls. She encouraged us to send her inspirational quotes and she would let us know if the quote ends up on the whiteboard.
Look, I can come up with any number of quotes. Like this one from Peter Gibbons in Office Space: “So I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.” But that’s probably not the inspirational sort of quote she’s looking for. And it probably won’t enhance anyone’s day any more than the vomit-inducing claptrap that is sure to end up as our quote of the day. And speaking of vomit-inducing, She closed her message with “Thanx.” Thanx? Really? What are we: 12-year-old girls exchanging text messages? OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. After all, if we were 12-year-old girls texting each other, she would have written “Thx.” Still, is it too much to ask that you use proper spelling when you send a message to the entire company?
No, Miss HR, we haven’t seen a lot of each other recently
I ran into one of our HR girls last week. We said hello to each other and then she said, “I haven’t seen you in forever.”
Well, that’s true. You see, you never make it over to my wing of the building, and probably wouldn’t find it if I drew you a map. And it’s not like I ever wander toward HR. And why would I? Everyone knows nothing good happens when you visit HR. So yeah. You haven’t seen me in forever…but it’s not really coincidental.
These germs AREN’T made for sharing
Yesterday, Nancy saw me for the first time in a while. She said hello, then hugged me. Fortunately, she didn’t hold it as long as she normally does. When she stopped hugging me, she said, “I’ve been sick, but I’m feeling better.”
You’ll pardon me if I come across as a paranoid germphobe, but you couldn’t tell me BEFORE the hug (as if hugging at work isn’t bad enough) that you’ve been sick? I mean why not cough directly in my mouth as you reach to hug me? Yeah, it’s no good that you’ve been sick, but you know what else would be lousy? If I get sick because I unknowingly hugged a sick person.
Boring meetings have advanced technology
I think we can all agree that few things on the cubicle farm are as undesirable as a 3:00 meeting. It’s well after lunch and the end of the workday is in sight. And there you are stuck in a conference room with a cast of characters that you’d never be with otherwise.
But you know something? It is possible to make an already bad thing even worse. I was in a 3:00 meeting for 40 minutes before I even had the chance to say a word. Not only that, but for those 40 minutes, I didn’t even have the remotest idea of what was being discussed. You know something? This is why someone decided that games should be on phones. And that phones should be able to access the internet. I don’t know who that person is. All I know is that he or she was probably stuck in one too many afternoon meetings with nothing to do but twiddle thumbs or doodle. If I had to guess, I would say that person was terrible at doodling. So I guess boring meetings are responsible for the advancement of technology…which is something.
I’ll be your professor…of apathy
I was walking through the halls at work yesterday when I heard one of my coworkers say, “I woke up at 4:30 to go to the bathroom, and I started thinking about this.”
You woke up at 4:30 AM to go to the bathroom and started thinking about work? Really? Here are the things I think about if I wake up at 4:30 to go to the bathroom
- "Don’t stub your toe as you walk in the dark."
- "Man, a bacon breakfast burrito will be pretty good…when I wake up in a couple hours."
- "Was that cat barf I just stepped in?"
If work crosses my mind at all at that time of day it is in the context of, “Crap! Only a couple more hours until I have to be in my cell errrrm cubicle.”
Frankly, I can barely be bothered to think about work when I’m in the office. The day that I think about work when I wake up for an early-morning whizz, I’ll know I need a new job. Or a sabbatical. Somewhere in the south Pacific.
I guess I just don’t understand these guys that think about work even when they’re half-asleep. The company would just as soon let you go as retain you, so why bother using your free time to think about work? But maybe I’m thinking about this all wrong. Maybe I should see this as an opportunity. Yeah, that’s it! If you’re one of those people who thinks about work even in the dead of night, I will be your professor. For very reasonable rates, I’ll teach you how to stop thinking about work as soon as you walk out the door.
That sage Butt-head had it right
As part of our annual goals, we have to pick five areas to focus on from some management principles and our core values. For the life of me, I cannot figure out the purpose of this. The one thing I can think of is that it’s one more way they can downgrade our performance. But here’s the thing. How do you measure vague concepts like “decision making” and “people matter.” What exactly is the metric for showing that people matter?
Not even the squares that decided this is mandatory could answer that one. And yet, we all had to do it. So, the big question is: why? Because someone whose bonus rides on this whole thing decided that this was an important exercise. Mind you, even the managers probably can’t explain why this is important. Oh, of course they’ll give some claptrap about aligning our goals and behavior with those of the CEO, but you have to wonder if they even believe that. Maybe it really is another thing on which they can grade us. I’ll probably never know. Like a good little employee, I submitted mine even though I don’t have any idea why. Frankly Butt-head said it best when “Dancing with Myself” came on, “I detect masturbatory overtones.”
Take this fun and squash it
Yesterday, we were sent a link to a one-question survey about what company activity we would like to do for the upcoming holiday. One of the options was an off-site dinner (at a place like Dave & Buster’s) with a team-building activity. There wasn’t enough room for all of this on Survey Monkey, so allow me to give my full response here.
For crying out loud, anything but team-building activities! Isn’t that why we have all those trainings? So we can do stupid team-building activities? Listen! I like Dave & Buster’s as much as the next guy. It’s a fun place. Notice I said fun. Why on earth would you want to squash it with something like a team-building activity? Don’t you understand? When we’re off-site, we don’t want to work as a team with our coworkers…unless we’re working together to finish a pitcher or four. Besides, we have those people in the office with no OFF switch for work. Inevitably, some of our staff are not only going to squash the fun of the dinner, they’ll make it into work. We get enough (too much, really) of work at work. Let’s not drag work into a situation that should be fun. Furthermore, don’t you have any idea what happens when everything is all about work?
And just who is voting for this option…aside from the fun-busters on the activities committee who think that a team-building activity will be a swell time? Who in their right mind would sign up for something like that…especially outside of work hours? These are the same people that would finish their classwork as quickly as possible so they could ask for more while the rest of us are taking the full allotted time.
So yeah I voted. It’s just too bad there was no option like:
Dear Lord Almighty, please please please let our company holiday activity be anything (yes, even grinding the bunions off of the feet of that chick in whatever department she’s in) other than team-building activities.
Although if people do vote for the off-site team-building activities, maybe the activities committee could issue these hats for the occasion.
Performance reviews: 3 is the new 5
I had my performance review a couple days ago. My boss started by explaining that 5 is the highest score you can get. Theoretically at least. It used to be that very few people (if anyone) got a 5. It makes sense. After all, no one does a perfect job. He further explained to me that no one really gets a 4 anymore and that really 3 is the best score anyone gets.
So let me see if I’ve got this straight. I can’t get the highest score because no one is perfect. But I can’t even get the next-highest score because no one gets that. Which means that the best I can do realistically is to fall right on the middle of the scale. Does that sound about right?
There are a couple ways to look at this. First, what’s the point of trying to do excellent work when even that will ultimately be rated as average? Why on earth would I work hard enough that I might earn a 4 on my performance review when the best I can get is a 3? Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t one of our core values to excel? Why on earth would I do that when excellence is only going to be rated as mediocre? It’s completely absurd.
The other way to look at this is: Duh! of course the best score possible is a 3. After all, how are the executives supposed to get gigantic bonuses if all the money is going to the plebes that get raises based on their performance reviews? If those plebes are being told they’re doing a great job (say with a 4 on a performance review), then they’ll want to be compensated accordingly. How do you avoid that unsavory situation? Keep the scale from 1 to 5 and tell all the managers that the upper end of the scale is unattainable no matter how good the employee is. That keeps:
- the employees in a position where they’re just happy to be employed and
- the money where it belongs: in the pockets of executives.
How are we spending our resources? Talking about headers (? ? ?)
Someone who is not my boss (the fact that we’re under the same roof is the only thing our jobs have in common) was in my cube yesterday morning haggling with me about using the corporate logo at the top of documents. At some point, he said, “I’m just trying to figure out how our resources are spent.”
And yet, you’re sitting here niggling me about the header at the top of a document? Not the content, but the header. And why? Because someone declared documents should be thus. Look pal, do you know who insisted on having this giant header at the top of every corporate document? The guy whose bonus rides on that. Oh, and by the way. Adding that header to all of our documents will require creating a new template. And is that a good use of our resources? You do realize of course that if I spend less time discussing headers, I can spend more time doing work?
Other observations since I returned from my vacation:
- In our break room, we have a television broadcasting propaganda…Soviet style. When I walked into the break room on Monday, I saw the “Hi Lites of the Week” flash onto the propaganda screen. Highlights? Are you kidding me? This company hasn’t had any highlights since out uberfuhrers took over. But maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they meant “Chi-Lites of the week” and it’s supposed to display "Have You Seen Her?" and other songs.
- When I opened the fridge, I noticed a lot of corporate-issue lunch bags inside. Look, I know that people can’t resist free stuff, and the fact that you got this from our company means that you didn’t have to buy a lunch bag on your own. But come on, people! There’s no point in showing everybody what a good little worker bee you are.
- Since my boss was let go, it seems that everyone now thinks he or she is my boss. Sorry, I don’t have the bandwidth to take orders from everybody.
You want MY thoughts on the future of our industry?
I ran into someone in the corridor yesterday morning. He looked at me and said, “So, are you getting excited?”
"What am I supposed to be excited for?"
"I thought I saw you on the distribution list for the forum about the future of our industry."
You remember that scene in Uncle Buck where Uncle Buck says to Bug and his niece, “They sure are scraping the bottom of the barrel for cheerleaders these days.”
That was my reaction when he told me he thought I was on the distribution list for this forum. They sure are scraping the bottom of the barrel for forum participants these days. The future of our industry? I don’t even know anything about the present of our industry, which leaves me squarely at the intersection seen below as to why I might have been invited to the forum.